SIDNEY — Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one. But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.
A recent survey conducted by NFPA revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern for the Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services and NFPA, along with fire departments throughout the country, because smoke alarms don’t last forever.
“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly,” said Cameron Haller, deputy chief of the Sidney Fire Department. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate our local residents about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.” Smoke alarms past their expiration date place people at an increased risk.
What type of smoke detector is recommended? An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, or where extra time is needed to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended by the National Fire Protection Agency and the Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). The Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services also says smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and that batteries should be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.
Haller also wants to remind residents that the Department of Fire & Emergency Services has a supply of free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that were donated for low and moderate income households. Simply stop by Fire Station No. 1 at 222 W. Poplar St. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to pick up a free detector.
For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” visit www.firepreventionweek.org.